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Birds of Prey (II, Vol. 2): The Death of Oracle

Too many people know who Oracle is. There’s only one solution Barbara can see: Oracle has to die. Tricky part is, no one’s in on the plan. Not even Dinah or any of the other Birds. When Calculator moves to destroy Oracle once and for all, Barbara sees her chance. She carefully pulls her strings, manipulating the Birds and Calculator’s goons right where she wants them. But when the mission turns south fast, can Oracle save her team one more time? Can the superhero community survive without an Oracle?

This is the most high-stakes mission the Birds have yet. The tension radiates from every page as you race through, desperate to see what happens! The action scenes are consequently particularly good in this volume, mirroring the tension in the story. There is more to the book after the end of this story, including Huntress reigniting an old flame and Lady Blackhawk reuniting with some of her old friends from her WWII days! I’m always up for a story centering on Zinda ;D

This is unfortunately the last volume before the New 52 – the series was cancelled after this volume =( It’s a shame the end of the story wasn’t really wrapped up, though at the very end there is a joke recalling earlier volumes, which was fun. I’m really sad I’m getting to the end – this is my favorite series and I don’t ever want to run out!!! Stay tuned for the New 52 run!

– Kathleen

Simone, Gail, Ardian Syaf, Pere Pérez, and Stanley Lau. Birds of Prey (II, Vol. 2): The Death of Oracle. 2011.

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Birds of Prey (II, Vol. 1): End Run

A little backstory before my review. It turns out, my last review of Birds of Prey was the last of the original run! After the Platinum Flats arc, it was cancelled!! I know, I’m outraged too!!! I will have to do more digging and see what happened. The good news is, they rebooted it for a short while after the Brightest Day event, with Gail Simone returning as writer. There isn’t much of this run before the New 52, but I’m addicted and need my fix!

The Birds have disbanded. In the aftermath of the Brightest Day event, they are back again… because someone wants them to be. A masked woman dressed all in white is threatening to kill one of the Birds every hour – unless Black Canary agrees to go with her. Of course, Dinah is not going without a fight, and the rest of the Birds will fight tooth and nail to keep her by their side, even after their separation. They’re going to need a little help though, from the resurrected Hawk and his partner, Dove. The bond of the Birds is about to be tested like never before. Will they hold strong together, or crumble once again?

The Birds are truly at their best while under Simone’s wing. They are more than a team, they’re a family. The love and respect these women have for each other, and that Simone has for these characters, is palpable in every page. Hawk and Dove made a fun addition, especially the war-mongering Hawk, who added a wild card element to the already fast-paced mix. Ed Benes has been a favorite artist of mine throughout this title, for the emotive qualities he brings to the heroines. Though I wouldn’t recommend it for first-time readers of this title – too many past events are referenced – it’s one of the best examples of the title there is.

– Kathleen

Simone, Gail, Ed Benes, Adriana Melo, and Alvin Lee. Birds of Prey (II, Vol. 1): End Run. 2011.

Birds of Prey (Vol. 12): Platinum Flats

The Birds have moved to Platinum Flats, a Silicon Valley-type town where there’s a new startup on every corner. No one will pay any attention to the new Clocktower Systems, a.k.a. the Birds’ new nest. They came for one crime boss, but they quickly realize that it’s a lot more than one guy. A whole group of supervillans moonlighting as CEOs have formed a group called the Silican Syndicate, and they’re in the startup business solely for themselves. Oracle’s intel is good so far, but from a questionable source. How long until she gets a bad piece of information? And when the Joker shows up in town, will Babs be able to stand up to him?

A little corporate action was fun after the globe-trotting of the past few volumes. The tension was ratcheted up in this volume with the addition of the Joker. This was the first time he and Babs had come face-to-face after he shot her and put her in the wheelchair. Bab’s emotions about their confrontation were realistic and really tugged my heartstrings. Can’t wait for the next volume!

– Kathleen

Bedard, Tony, Michael O’Hare, Nicola Scott, and Claude St. Aubin. Birds of Prey (Vol. 12): Platinum Flats. 2009.

Birds of Prey (Vol. 11): Metropolis or Dust

Bringing down the sociopathic daughter of a mobster: business as usual for the Birds. But somehow she’s harnessed a mysterious kind of magic and killed a lot of people in Metropolis. Superman, understandably, is pissed, and berates Babs for biting off more than she can chew. But Oracle WILL get to the bottom of this… whatever it takes. Even if it means she has to recruit the emotionally unstable Black Alice. Meanwhile, someone from Zinda’s past shows up – her distant past, from World War II. He’s after her memories, and Huntress can’t let her face that all by herself.

… Something just seemed off to me about this book. It wasn’t until Lady Blackhawk and Huntress go after Killer Shark that it hit me. Simone hadn’t written this one. Under her care, none of the Birds were treated as damsels in distress, especially not Zinda. So that bit was a little disturbing to me. Thankfully that was short-lived… unlike Misfit. I REALLY don’t like her and wish she would go away. It was still okay, but I feel it’s going off the rails a bit. Here’s hoping the next volume is better!

– Kathleen

McKeever, Sean, Nicola Scott, and Doug Hazelwood. Birds of Prey (Vol. 11): Metropolis or Dust. 2008.

Top 5 Wednesday: Books That Would Make Good Video Games

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes.

I’m going back in time in the T5W bank, because today’s was sci-fi/fantasy related again and I just did one of those! Let’s mix it up a bit =P I’m slowly getting back into games after trying Horizon Zero Dawn~

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5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Thought of you, Nancy! =P Eleanor & Park is an incredibly cute but incredibly heartbreaking story about two misfit teenagers falling in love. It’s set in the ’80s, but I often forgot that while reading it because the story and themes are so timeless. I think it would make a great 8 bit platformer game. You could alternate playing as Eleanor and Park every other level, and find different comics and tapes referenced in the book to give to the other person. There could be a heart meter that goes up or down depending on how many or what you find and give. And maybe the game would reveal the three mysterious words on the postcard – and change every time depending on how you play and how full you get the meter!

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4. Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor

The first book is amazing and even if the sequels aren’t on the same level, y’all should read it. This trilogy is about a girl with blue hair named Karou, an artist who’s raised by monsters. One of her guardians deals in animal teeth, and you find out later he builds other creatures from the teeth he collects and strings together like necklaces. Wouldn’t that be an awesome sidequest in a game??? Finding teeth and stringing them together to build creatures for an army, each animal with different stat attributes? Deal me in!

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3. Wonder Woman by George Perez

Okay, I admit I’ll take any incarnation of WW as a game, but the story and art of this run are iconic and stellar! I think it would lend itself well to a video game. There are also plenty of plot threads – main and side – that would translate well to a game. As it was written in the ’80s, I imagine it as another 8 bit sidescroller… complete with all the melodramatic cheesy dialogue goodness!

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2. Birds of Prey by Gail Simone

There are a lot of angles from which a Birds game could be played. You could play strictly as Oracle, where you choose the heroes you send into the field, and see them from a birds-eye view (pun not intended!), and manipulate them as if you were playing a tactical board game. In addition to moving your heroines around, there could also be puzzles to solve and codes to crack in order for the mission to succeed. You could also play as one of the heroes and go into the field, with Oracle as your AI guide, for a more action-oriented game. I feel no matter which incarnation you get, there should be a role-playing element, to highlight the bond between the Birds so evident in the comics!

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1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Okay I know we’ve had ports of movie tie-ins to just about every console and handheld from the PS1 and GameBoy on… we had Pottermore back when it was actually a game (and I’m still incredibly salty it’s not anymore)… but wHERE IS MY HARRY POTTER SIMULATOR??? WHEN CAN I MAKE MY OWN CHARACTER AND PLAY AS HER THROUGH HOGWARTS??? WHEN?!!?!? IT’S 2017 AND WE DON’T HAVE THIS YET AND IT’S A TRAVESTY TO HUMANKIND TBH

Honorable mention was a Batgirl game… one half-baked Arkham Knight DLC is never going to be enough… #saltyaboutit

What book to game incarnations would you want to see? =D

– Kathleen

Birds of Prey (Vol. 10): Club Kids

Babs kind of has her hands full right now. For one thing, that Calculator guy is hot on her trail again… and he gets a little too close to her real identity for her comfort. The ever-polyamorous Ollie has proposed marriage to Dinah, and what kind of friend would she be if she didn’t try to talk her out of it? Huntress has gone off the rails again and Lady Blackhawk has gone MIA after the death of an old friend… how can Barbara possibly keep it together?

This volume was quite a bit thinner than the last, and the story skips around a lot. This part of the arc takes place between a few events like The Death of the New Gods. As it is, I think there were a lot of disjointed elements in this book and none of them really came together to create a whole story. It just seemed… so very in the middle, without a clear beginning or end. Most comics are like this but so far there’s been an attempt to start and end each individual story clearly, but this wasn’t the case here.

– Kathleen

Bedard, Tony, Nicola Scott, Jason Orfalas, and David Cole. Birds of Prey (Vol. 10): Club Kids. 2009.

Birds of Prey (Vol. 9): Dead of Winter

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Simone, Gail, Nicola Scott, and Doug Hazlewood. Birds of Prey (Vol. 9): Dead of Winter. 2008.

Barbara’s former college rival, Katarina, also known as Spy Smasher, has taken control of the Birds. They are en route to Russia for this adventure. They are to take back a weapon the Russian government has, and that’s being guarded by the Secret Six. When they discover that the “weapon” is in fact a person – a hero who has been dead for quite some time – the Birds, especially with their recent change in management, may be up for their deadliest mission yet. Can Barbara take back her organization before it’s too late?

The action never stops in this volume! The writing is incredibly fast-paced and the art dynamic. Tensions within the team are particularly high here, and the facial expressions of all the ladies were captured particularly well. There are some great moments with Big Barda and Lady Blackhawk – who are quickly becoming my new favorites XD

– Kathleen

Birds of Prey (Vol. 8): Blood & Circuits

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Simone, Gail, Tony Bedard, Nicola Scott, Paulo Sequeira, and James Raiz. Birds of Prey (Vol. 8): Blood & Circuits. 2007.

Dinah has returned from Asia, and she’s brought someone home with her. Her name is Sin, and she was born and raised in the harrowing assassin camp Dinah was training in. Taking Sin under her wing has proven to be more rewarding, yet more challenging, than Dinah had anticipated. She’s made a decision… to leave the Birds of Prey. How will the others take the news? How can they possibly go on without her? While Dinah is starting a new future, someone from Barbara’s past has wormed her way back into her life… and it’s not good for the already fractured Birds.

Dinah with a kid hit me in places I didn’t know I could have feels. We learn a bit more about Dinah’s past and her relationship with her mother in this volume, which serves as a bit of motivation for why she took Sin in. It’s obvious that while Barbara, Helena, and Zinda are happy that Dinah is spreading her wings, they’re devastated to see her go, too. The Birds really are a family and it shows in the first half of this volume. The second half, with the new roster, is all action (for those of you who can’t take too many feels =P )!

– Kathleen

P.S…. I’m not sorry for all the bird puns.

Hype or Like Friday: Best Reads of 2016

So many good reads this year- some brand new series, or some that were new to us! This also marks a year that we have been blogging- as we created this blog for a school project we were working on in November 2015, and truly started adding content in December and early January. It has been quite a fun journey, and a lesson in time management to meet our (self-imposed) deadlines of posting! We’ve made friends with other bloggers, and found our tribe at WordPress!

We are connecting our best books of the year with a meme we are trying for the first time- Hype or Like Friday that we discovered on Goodreads. This meme was created by Jillian, Larkin and Britt who are book bloggers that want to share their opinions about overly hyped books.

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Nancy: My reading highlight was the Locke & Key series, written by Joe Hill and beautifully illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. Such an epic story- it had complex characters, moral dilemmas, a malevolent evil and an atmospheric setting that sucks you in.

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Kathleen: My favorite thing that I started reading this year was Fables (Vol. 1 of the Deluxe Edition). Timeless fairy tale figures living in modern New York City – what more could you ask for? The characterization is excellent, the plot twisting and riveting, and though I don’t normally like the art to vary too much, they really pick artists who fit the style of the story at any given time. Absolutely a must-read.

 

Revival

Nancy: Another series that I found outstanding was Revival, written by Tim Seeley and illustrated by Mike Norton.  It was an atypical living dead story, in which a handful of dead suddenly came back to life. They quietly rejoin their former lives, not even realizing or remembering their deaths. Their new existence sets the town on edge, with media scrutiny, a government quarantine and religious fanatics taking over the region. Seven of the planned eight volumes are out, and I eagerly look forward to the finale of the series early next year.

 

 

61kihhzxy3l-_sx328_bo1204203200_Kathleen: George Perez’s Wonder Woman (review coming soon!) is the acclaimed 1980’s reboot of your favorite heroine. It’s a great origin story for first time readers of Wonder Woman, as it’s easy to follow and heavily borrows the mythology from her Greek roots, which is always fascinating. The art is richly detailed, colorful, and full of light, as befitting the Amazon princess. Plus, cheesy ’80s dialogue galore! =P

 

 

 

The Outside Circle

Nancy: The Outside Circle, written by Patti LaBoucane-Benson and illustrated by Kelly Mellings,  tells the fictional tale of a Canadian First Nations man that comes to terms with his heritage and who begins to take responsibility for his life. The story is based on the reality that many Native people face (in Canada and the US), for the government took away thousands of children from their families over the years, breaking the circles of community and fragmenting generations of people with no connection to their tribe anymore.

 

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Kathleen: Seconds is not your typical coming-of-age story. Yeah, Katie is a 20-something who struggles with owning her own business, making friends, and with letting go of her ex… but she also gets a rare opportunity to start over by eating a magic mushroom. Soon, she starts eating one every night, but the more she tries to fix, the more she messes up. And the more she makes the house spirit angry with her. Rounded forms and warm colors belie the serious message within.

 

 

Kingdom Come

Nancy: Kingdom Come, written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Alex Ross was praised by IGN with the statement, “One of the greatest comic book stories of all time”, and they were not far off the mark. I am typically more a Marvel fan, but this DC story was fantastic for the moralistic debate story line. The artwork is top notch, with a distinctive photo-realism look and holds up 20 years after first being published. This book stays true to each character’s back story, so kudos to the team’s familiarity with the history of all the superheroes!  As such, the Epilogue was a perfect ending.

 

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Kathleen: High-fantasy readers, rejoice, for there is a comic out there just for you. Kurt Busiek’s The Autumnlands takes us to a world where animals speak, weave magic, and build cities in the sky. When their magic starts disappearing, the collective of wizards casts one last spell to bring a savior to their world – but the cost is too great, sending their city plummeting to the plains below. Can they survive what horrors await them in the night? Can their champion really save them? Features gorgeous, richly detailed art and beautiful writing.

 

 

invincibleNancy: The book Invincible took me by surprise this year, for it is overshadowed by writer Robert Kirkman’s more well known project (The Walking Dead) but I felt the world building in this one volume was as strong as DC & Marvel’s superhero worlds. We meet Mark, a new superhero, who is the son of Omni-Man. Later his world is turned upside down, with a twist that will surprise you, and his life changes forever with this new knowledge. This new development is a game changer and sets up endless stories for the future. Sadly, this series is drawing to a close soon, but I will enjoy binge reading the rest of the books soon.

 

 

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Kathleen: My last one was a toss-up between Birds of Prey and Bombshells… and Birds of Prey won. I know! Strike me down where I stand!!! They both feature a wide and varied cast of female superheroes, which I love, but Birds of Prey has the core three whom you can’t help rooting for. It has been wonderful to see how Barbara, Dinah, and Helena come together and become a family despite their differences. Exotic locales, action-packed stories, and hilarious dialogue have made this series near and dear to my heart.

 

There you have it – our ten best books/series of 2016. Thank you for all the support, comments, and friendship that you’ve all given us. We are so happy to have you all with us =D Happy holidays!!! ❤

– Nancy & Kathleen

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